The most widely read material in the world over the past year became a New York Times article about how mobile phones are watching their hosts and merge these data on the side. Installing a nice app, you may be unaware, now you know everything.
We publish a translation of the article with small reductions.
“Millions of points moving on the highway, lanes and paths. These points — the owners of mobile phones.
One point in seven starts at home in upstate new York and stops at a high school miles away. Every day the same route. Comparing the data, we can calculate that Lisa Magrin, the mathematics teacher, 46 years old. And Yes, she will not part with a smartphone.
All this time he collected and sold information about where is Lisa — without her knowledge. Watched her while she went to the meeting of the society of anonymous fat people, visited a dermatologist. And when I walked my dog, and when I went to visit a former boyfriend.
Lisa, in principle, knows that apps could track users. But it is not scale.
At least 75 companies will receive data on the whereabouts of people from the applications whose users included the capability of determining the location to read local news and find out about the weather.
Some of these firms are tracking up to 200 million cell phones — about half of all cellular USA. Such a database fell into the hands of the journalists of the New York Times. It affects: the location of the person determined very exactly, the data is updated at 14 000 times a day.
Companies sell and analyze such data on the behavior of citizens for advertisers, shops and even financial funds.
This market was IBM, after purchasing the app Weather Chanel. Social network Foursquare has reformed into a local company marketing. And startups on the profile of the investing giants such as Goldman Sachs and Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal.
Firms claim that they are interested in the behavior and not the individual users. They recall that the information gathered by the applications is not tied to someone’s name or phone number, as an anonymous identifier. But people with access to “raw data” can easily identify a person by geolocation. Knowing, for example, his home address, not difficult to find points of his route on the map and purposefully keep track of all movements.
Or Vice versa — the name of the anonymous user can be determined by where its dot regularly “sleeps”. It remains only to penetrate the name at the address.
Entrepreneurs claim that as soon as the owner of a mobile phone includes geolocation, bribes are smooth — like, he agreed. But the user agreement is a delicate thing.
The application may report: providing access to the geolocation, you will receive the latest news about traffic jams. But do not mention that the data someone sell.
“So you can reveal the most intimate details of your life: go to a psychiatrist with whom you are Dating” he says. Senator Ron Weiden. He put forward a bill to restrict the collection and sale of such data. While this field in the US is poorly regulated by law.
Last year at the seminar, the head of the firm Ground Truth Elina Greenstein showed how the surveillance of a consumer can reveal the truth about his tastes. And it’s not like the data from the search engines. For example, someone puts into Google the query about recipes for healthy meals, but Ground Truth knows that he often goes to fast food outlets.
“We seek to understand who the man was, judging by where he’s been and where it’s going. And affect his next steps,” said Greenstein.
Financiers can use data to make decisions about investments before or that the company will report the income. For example, seeing that more people started working in the factory or rushed to store shelves.
In databases, obtained by our reporters, there are prisons, schools, military bases, nuclear plants and even the scene of the crime. Someone, perhaps a detective, later in the night came in Manhattan, where the murder happened, has been held in a nearby hospital and went to the police station.
Two location-based company, Fysical and SafeGraph, tracked who came to the inauguration of the trump. The map is bright red cluster twang of mobile phones refers to the place where stood trump and his supporters…
According to analysts, more than a thousand popular applications contain program code to send location data to third parties. In Google’s Android operating system was found 1200 such applications on the Apple iOS 200.
We have tested twenty of these applications. A large part sent the latitude and longitude of approximately 70 companies. Accurate data from only one application received 40 companies.
The question of awareness
Brian Wong, head of the mobile company Kiip, which also sells anonymous information about users, recalls: “You get the app for free, because they exist on money from advertising.”
But If the nurse thinks otherwise. “I think that they need to be reminded. So no!”
Miss Lee gave the apps on the IPhone access to your geologicaly, only to make it easier to find a place to Park. The teacher Magrin allowed dozens of applications to find out where she is, to be aware of the traffic jams.
“Most people don’t realize what is happening”, — stressed the head of the trading data of Eagle Alpha Emmett Kilduff. He believes that the responsibility for compliance with the laws in the field of data collection falls on companies that do that.
Many of these firms argue that on its own initiative take measures to protect user data, but not everyone shares such a policy.
Following the money
Application developers can earn by selling or merging the data directly to their advertisers. According to The New York Times company, buying location, paying developers one to two cents per user per month.
Google and Facebook collect data from their own applications. They claim that they don’t sell them and keep for yourself, to personalize services, to sell targeted advertising. Google says that change this data, so they were less accurate.
Technically both companies are taking steps to limit the collection of GEODATA. In the latest version of the Android operating system applications that are not used at the moment, can collect data only “several times” in hour, and not constantly as before.
In the Apple, according to industry representatives, canned plans to substantially restrict the collection of GEODATA. But last year the company announced that the next version of iOS will show on the screen the special icon every time the app collects data in the background.
After the teacher Magrin and nurse Li saw their routes learned from apps on the phone, they immediately limited the amount of data that can be collected program. Ms. Lee advised colleagues to do the same.
“I phoned them and just said, “You have to disable it, remove it immediately.”
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